Intrapreneur Model Small
As a director of Spark and Eskil, I provide critical friendship to public and private sector and leaders as they explore the principles of intrapreneurship.

One of the key factors affecting the success of intrapreneurship is culture – how the leaders, managers and teams choose to embrace or ignore new ways of working.

It’s common to see weak leadership sitting over dysfunctional managers which, in turn, corrodes the workplace. There’s a strong likelihood that you can see lax compliance with processes, a low-level refusal to satisfy customers, too many meetings with very few outcomes, revenue stalling, profits falling as money is wasted… simply put, people are bored of being in your enterprise.

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles over the years, leaders need to believe in intrapreneurship and not just talk about it. If intrapreneurship is failing, the root cause is likely to be the CEO / MD – how strong is your CEO?

But with a strong and committed leader in place, there’s still work to be done as blocking behaviours need to be dismantled (we use various talking therapies to get to why the behaviours are there and then develop new strategies to improve the organisational health).

Intrapreneurship can be great for team engagement (empowering staff, building a collaborative environment, providing a mechanism for ideas to be heard, new reward & recognition, opportunity for brand new career paths… the list goes on) but managers who have spent 20-30 years building a career aren’t going to take too kindly to a workplace with flatter hierarchy, flexible career paths, devolved management, etc.

Leaders communicating and demonstrating a commitment to sanctioned intrapreneurship are in a position to empower teams (partly bypassing dysfunctional managers) but do the teams see the benefit of this?

Eskil Main LogoDevelop idea pathways
I spend the majority of the early days of any intrapreneur engagement in looking at the current methods for getting ideas some kind of visibility in the boardroom. Realistically, devolved management means that the ‘smaller’ ideas don’t need to be visible but, from a culture-change perspective, it’s important for teams to see that the leaders are paying attention.

Reward & recognise
Good managers will want their teams to develop new ideas for revenue generation, administration / operations, stakeholder engagement, new trading… people respond well to simple recognition of their ideas, but so many managers fail to do it.

Be just as entrepreneurial
To build rapport and trust, the manager needs to be demonstrating the same traits and speak the same language. A team with an invigorated, open and positive mindset will work better for someone who is invigorating, open and positive.

Nurture your commercial catalysts
You my use external support to begin with (Eskil do a lot in this area) but it is important that the culture, processes, and ideas need to be self-sufficient and sustainable – and this means that you eventually rely less on the external support as you do it yourself. Commercial catalysts will be providing advice, guidance and mentoring as well as supporting the ideas as colleagues navigate the political waters. The commercial catalyst will also debunk urban myths that flourish in large organisations.

Change your risk profile
Whether we operate in recession or growth, the obsession with risk stifles creativity. Devolved management should help to change this as it encourages empowerment (Ritz-Carlton has given every single employee $2,000 a day per guest to ‘delight or make right’. But they never use the money because that money is just symbolic as the hotel corporation is saying to employees, “we trust you”).

There’s more…
There’s always more. Articles and blogs are written about the complexity of intrapreneur culture – and this is an area that Eskil does a lot of work – Google it and it may save you some money along the way as there are lot of players in the market who are fresh to the discipline and have probably never even been an intrapreneur.

Contact Neil directly if you would like to talk about enabling intrapreneurship in your organisation.

The case for intrapreneurship